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Post-Pandemic RPO Requirements

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Written by Matt Ward, Head of RPO Sales

In the last 18 months, we’ve seen the labor market shift more than it has in maybe the past 18 years. We went from a booming economy with 3.5% unemployment to a global pandemic and economic shutdown that drove unemployment to nearly 15%. Companies experienced wild cycles of restructuring, furloughs, layoffs, and some even shut down operations entirely. Then, as the world transitioned to a new normal, hiring fired up, and the unemployment rate fell to about 6%. As of Q2 2021, many companies are roaring back, but cannot hire, train, and deploy resources fast enough, including recruiters.

Hiring Variability is a Problem Fixed Solutions Can’t Solve

At Personify, we believe traditional internal talent acquisition models as a standalone solution are outdated. Many companies take a “best guess” approach to workforce planning and hiring forecasts. They look at attrition levels, soft spots in the organization, event-driven growth, and seasonal hiring, then set their internal recruitment team’s capacity to absorb surges through the year. The problem with this approach is that hiring needs fluctuate, and your workforce plans quickly become outdated.  Hiring is a variable and dynamic challenge, and you can’t fix a dynamic problem with a fixed solution. This is why I like to say traditional standalone talent acquisition models are broken. So, the question becomes, “how do you solve this problem?” From our perspective, RPO is a perfect solution, but there are four critical requirements your provider must have to address the problem successfully:

  1. On-demand Delivery
  2. Flexible Pricing
  3. Comprehensive Search
  4. Steady State Recruiting

On-demand Delivery

Whether your organization is ready to outsource talent acquisition functions fully or partially, an RPO partner who can deliver on-demand is critical. On-demand delivery provides the ability to flex recruitment activities by scaling resources up or down in real-time. Let’s face it; internal teams have a fixed capacity. When requisition volumes are low, you suffer from the sunk cost of idle recruiters–that’s a waste of resources. But when requisition volumes surge above internal team capacity, you have to hire more recruiters or pay costly agency fees–that’s expensive. And both solutions are slow and reactive. But with an RPO provider that delivers on-demand, as soon as your internal team hits maximum capacity, you can immediately pivot to your RPO partner for overflow and projects.

We have one client who increased requisition volume 94% in 11 months. We scaled the recruiting team to 40 recruiters and coordinators to absorb the surge, then scaled right back down when requisition volumes normalized. In Q1 2021, an Aerospace/Defense client we work with increased requisition volume by 142% YOY, but our average TTF was 17% below target, and 85% of Q1 2021 fills had a TTS of 30 days or less—an improvement of 2% versus the prior quarter. In short, despite the surge in volume, cycle time either remained the same or improved while hiring manager and candidate experience remained superior:

  • 81% of HMs reported the process was exceptional or exceeded expectations
  • 73% of HMs reported candidate quality was exceptional or exceeded expectations
  • Average Candidate net promoter rating was 9.1 out of 10

Flexible Pricing

Because hiring needs are never constant, one of the most important reasons to consider RPO is to mitigate the cost risks associated with that variability. Over the years, we discovered that many RPO providers use pricing models that lock clients into high monthly minimums and charge incremental fees when volume exceeds certain thresholds. To us, a pricing model like that makes no sense whatsoever. When an RPO provider locks you into high fixed monthly minimums, what they are doing is pushing the risk associated with hiring variability back on to you. Isn’t risk mitigation, at least partly, why you hired an RPO in the first place?

Personify offers a unique fee-per-requisition model built specifically to address the risks associated with the variability of hiring. In our model, you only pay for the recruitment services you use. We offer generous volume discounts, so as requisition volume increases, your cost-per-hire fee decreases. Of course, we never lock you into a monthly minimum requisition volume that costs you regardless of the actual need. If your requisition volume drops to zero in our model, that’s pretty close to what you’ll pay. In fact, for one medical device customer, our model reduced the company’s monthly fixed costs from $181,000 to $7,000, a 96% reduction.

Comprehensive Search

Before entering the RPO market, Personify spent 30 years as a boutique executive search firm. At Personify, we never forget that the “R” in “RPO” stands for recruitment. We don’t just process applicants—we actually recruit candidates. Our tools and processes, born from our executive search heritage, extend Personify’s reach well beyond applicant pools and deep into passive markets. After all, every firm that views its people as a competitive advantage wants to meet and hire the best candidates in the market—whether active or passive—not just the best applicant. And in labor deplete markets like science, healthcare, technology, and engineering, there are only small pools of qualified individuals, and everyone competes for them.

In these markets, clients require a partner with exemplary passive sourcing capabilities. Without it, recruitment KPIs suffer, or agency costs soar, or sometimes both. Personify’s comprehensive search methodology allows clients to move forward knowing the most qualified candidate—not the best applicant–is being hired on every search. A great example of how comprehensive search can impact your organization is when we partnered with one of the world’s fastest-growing life sciences equipment manufacturers. This company had a mix of internal recruiters, contract recruiters, and an army of 3rd party agencies they leveraged to fill positions. This structure was too slow and expensive to achieve the company’s growth targets, so they began to evaluate solutions. After making the strategic decision to move to an RPO model, and after just nine months of partnering with Personify, our comprehensive search methodology reduced agency spend by 90%+ saving the company over $1M in recruitment spend, while also reducing time to fill by 20%, and overall cost per hire by 42%.

Steady State Recruitment

In today’s fast-moving talent market, you need an agile partner who can proactively extend your reach by leveraging a digitally enabled, omnichannel approach that keeps your brand in a steady state of recruitment. At Personify, we help clients achieve this state with our Talent Relationship Management (TRM) platform. Through TRM, we proactively attract and activate candidate pipelines at scale through a combination of traditional and digital marketing activities. We leverage your EVP to develop and implement communication plans that proactively build engaged and interested talent communities predisposed to your brand and employment opportunities. Many companies today have talent communities, but we find most are just job alert emails. To truly engage candidates, you need to do more. You have to educate candidates on why they should work with you by sharing content showcasing your EVP, culture, and other benefits. We recently worked with a rural healthcare system looking to fill 100+ permanent RN positions to reduce over-reliance on expensive travel nurses. Through our steady-state recruitment delivered via our TRM platform, we filled over 100 positions faster than the previous model, saving millions in travel nurse, recruitment, and agency costs. Oh yeah, we engage in Steady-State Recruitment for ourselves too.

To win in any hiring environment, you need an RPO partner with an on-demand delivery solution, flexible pricing model, passive sourcing capabilities, and transforms traditional, reactive recruitment models into a progressive and proactive system of steady-state recruitment. Personify offers all the above (and more).  That’s why Personify is the first step to smarter hiring.

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